On December 6, 1991, Jennifer and I met with our friends Marshall, Kathy and Tina to catch the opening night of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Each of us being Trekkies, we couldn’t wait for the latest installment of the saga. While I don’t remember many details of the film I do remember who we were with and the fun we had sharing the experience.
I remember many friend-filled nights through the years: Sunday night conversations with Bill and Molly that always bled into the early hours of Monday morning, must-see TV nights and murder mystery dinners with Stacy, Jill, Lee Ann, David, Ricky and Holly during our years in Dallas, talking Beatles trivia with Harry, and Russell and Ginger hanging a six-pack on the front door of our house in Florida as a joke while I served as the youth pastor at a “don’t drink and don’t dance” kind of church and they wanted to let me know they weren’t hung up on things like that.
There was a time when we hung out with friends several nights a week laughing, talking, eating, drinking and living. It occurs to me that life isn’t much like that anymore.
These days we spend most evenings alone, watching television, falling asleep in our chairs. I’m not sure exactly when that happened or why. But as I approach 50 this September I can’t help but wonder what the next decades of life will be like. I used to say that I didn’t want to be one of two people alone in the world as I got older and I still hope that won’t be the case. Who knows?
There was an organic nature to our friendships back then. We naturally gravitated toward one another. It wasn’t planned and we certainly did not see one another as a “strategic” relationship. That would have been much too clinical.
We were people who shared life and in doing so made life a richer experience. It never occurred to us not to spend time together. We found one another and we instinctively knew life was meant to be shared.
I love watching John Hughes’ films and one of my favorites is “The Breakfast Club”. Five high school students who could not be more different from one another and whose lives rarely intersect are thrown together in Saturday morning detention for various reasons. As the story is told they discover that while they began the day seeing themselves only as “a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal,” they realize they aren’t that different from one another after all. They find out that what kept them from wanting to know each other before were nothing more than external affectations taken on to deal with the struggles of life.
None of us has chosen to be here. We have learned how to work, play, talk and live as a result of our experiences. But instead of allowing our differences to keep us from getting to know one another we can spend time together. We can work, talk, play and maybe realize that what separates us externally is not nearly as pronounced as what makes us alike internally.
When my son Ruben was born we were living in Dallas. Jennifer was in labor for something close to eighteen hours. For nearly that entire time someone from among our friends was at the hospital waiting for our son to enter the world. No one asked them to come. No one needed to. They just showed up.
I miss those days.